Yew (Taxus baccata Taxus cuspidata)

Amber Waves Pygmy Goats
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This page contains information regarding a plant "known to be poisonous" to goats as well as other animals. This information was researched from various resources. Please note, that the author is not a botanist or specialist regarding plants. This information is posted for your reference and comparison purposes only.

Yew - Click for a full size image Yew - Click for a full size image

English Yew, Japanese Yew, (yew family)

Alkaloid Containing Plant - Several species of yew are planted as ornamental shrubs or hedges. They are woody perennials with flat 1/2-1 inch long evergreen leaves lighter green on the underside and broader than pine needles. The "berry" (technically called an aril) is grape-sized, juicy, and bright scarlet, with a hole in the end which makes it look cup-like.

All parts, especially leaves.

"Found dead" is the typical presenting sign. Very rarely will animals show signs up to 2 days later: trembling, slow heart rate, difficulty breathing, gastroenteritis (stomach upset and diarrhea). The plant is exceptionally toxic, with one mouthful able to kill a horse or cow within 5 minutes. Toxicity is compounded by the apparent palatability of yew. Many animals are poisoned accidently when yew trimmings are thrown into the pasture or when yew is planted as an ornamental within browsing reach. Infrequent reports of dogs chewing the leaves resulted in gastroenteritis, seizures, and aggressive behavior.

The toxin is taxine, a mixture of alkaloids, that slow down cardiac conduction. As little as 0.1 to 0.5% of the fresh plant per body weight is lethal. Death is due to cardiac and/or respiratory collapse.

Extremely toxic, death is likely.

All animals (livestock, pets and birds).

Sudden death is the typical sign. Occasionally: breathing problems, trembling, weakness, heart problems, stomach upset.

First aid is usually impractical, since the animals die so quickly. Prevent other animals from being exposed and use caution around animals showing clinical signs to prevent human injury. If animals are still alive, contact a veterinarian. Cardiac drug therapy may be attempted, but success is unlikely.

Yew is toxic even when dry, therefore hay with yew in it is never safe in any amount.

Never allow yew plants or trimmings within reach of horses, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, birds, or any other animal likely to eat plants. Dogs and cats rarely chew on this plant, so it is not necessary to remove it from ornamental gardens. Toxicities in dogs occurred when puppies were confined to a pen with yew and chewed the plant out of boredom. The fleshy red "berry" is not considered toxic, but consumption is not advised.

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